She gives big thanks to Kayla Itsines for inspiration.

Blake Bakkila
July 13, 2018

Eating more and gaining weight can be perfectly healthy lifestyle changes. Giulia Viavattene, a 24-year-old from Italy, explained that in a before-and-after post about how she did both—and became a whole lot stronger and happier.

Viavattene's healthy transformation started two years ago, after she discovered fitness influencer Kayla Itsines on Instagram. That inspired her to start what she named her BBG program. On Thursday she took to social media to reflect on the positive changes she made to her diet and exercise regimen.

RELATED: These 13 Women Prove Every Body Is a Bikini Body

“In the left picture I was at the lowest of my weight,” she said, referring to her before photo. “I wanted to be thinner and thinner, I was eating mostly salads and fruits for a daily caloric intake of 1200 calories if I was lucky.”

Viavattene tells Health she adopted Itsines’s program at a time when she was studying aerospace engineering in the Netherlands. Far from home, she struggled with insecurities about who she was, what she wanted, and how she looked.

“I understood that I had to make a change,” she says. So I did not give up. Today I’m so grateful to the Giulia of two years ago for having pushed on towards her happier self.”

That wasn’t always easy. As she explained in her post, Viavattene had to learn how to take care of her mind and body. This meant eating more, and she said she gained about 15 pounds. “My dress size has remained the same, but my mood and mindset have totally changed,” she wrote.

RELATED: 5 Mental Tricks to Feeling Amazing, Even if You Miss a Few Workouts

She also had to motivate herself to get through tough workouts. “During the first weeks, it was so difficult to complete my workouts,” she says. “I remember I attached a slip of paper on my wall saying ‘You can do this!’ that I looked at when I felt I could not do any [more] push-ups.”

As she celebrates her transformation, we're cheering Viavattene for focusing on her physical and mental health—and not worrying about her weight. She also makes it clear that she wasn’t trying to turn herself into a Kayla Itsines look-alike; she was just working toward becoming the best version of herself.